Plastic is an unavoidable part of modern life. It plays an essential role in the construction of our vehicles, work equipment, computers, mobile devices, children’s toys, apparel, and nearly everything we use on a daily basis, including food packaging and storage containers.
While plastic is easy to spot in items like water bottles and food wrappers, it hides out in a surprising number of other products as well, posing serious risks to both human health and the health of the planet.
Reasons to Avoid Plastic
The average person ingests thousands of microplastic particles every week. One study recently found that globally the average person ingests 5 grams of plastic every week.¹ That’s the equivalent of eating a credit card!
More and more research is revealing that the toxic compounds found in plastic contribute to health problems ranging from cancer to infertility. Hundreds of animal studies indicate potential health dangers, including abnormal development of the brain and reproductive organs in babies exposed to toxic compounds from plastic in utero. BPA and phthalates, both found in plastic, are endocrine disruptors that interfere with the production and regulation of hormones.²
Concern over plastic pollution of our oceans is also growing. Over 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year, threatening sea life and the symbiotic relationship between sea and land.³ The ocean provides more than 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe thanks to the activity of phytoplankton. This oxygen production is being seriously threatened by the toxic burden put on marine environments.
According to researchers at the Center for International and Environmental Law:
“At every stage of its lifecycle, plastic poses distinct risks to human health, arising from both exposure to plastic particles themselves and associated chemicals…Plastic is a global health crisis hiding in plain sight.”⁴
Hidden Sources of Plastic
Nearly 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually to keep up with global product demand. Some of this plastic makes its way into products you may not expect, including:
- Cash register receipts: Many receipts are lined with BPA, a common plastic component that is a known toxin. The Environmental Working Group warns that this delicate type of plastic can enter your body through your skin or through the food you touch and then eat.⁵
- Canned foods: BPA also shows up in the lining of canned foods. Many manufacturers are now using BPA-free cans in food production, but it’s important to note that BPA-free does not equal toxin-free. Other chemicals and heavy metals can still be present.
- Cosmetics: Polyethylene and acrylates copolymer are two of the most commonly used microplastics in cosmetic products such as mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, powder, foundation, cleanser, and facial scrub.⁶ Microplastics are very small plastics added to products for their textural properties. Due to the small nature of these plastics, they are easily absorbed into the skin.
- Tea bags: Up to 95 percent of tea bags may contain plastic. If the bag is sealed or crimped, it will contain plastic in the sealant. Steeping tea in hot water will cause the chemicals in the plastic to leach into the tea.
- Salt: Research has revealed the presence of microplastics in nearly 90 percent of table salt brands available worldwide.⁷ As the environment is increasingly polluted with plastic, it’s no surprise that microplastics are now appearing in naturally sourced resources like salt.
Reducing your plastic use is a smart move for both your health and the health of the planet. Take these steps to avoid plastics and hidden plastics:
- Research your cosmetics to learn what ingredients make up your frequently used products. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database is a wonderful tool to use in your research.
- Opt for glass storage containers for any consumable product, including food, homemade body butter or toothpaste, and the like.
- When purchasing food, choose items sold in glass containers whenever possible. To avoid the accumulation of plastic condiment containers like ketchup and salad dressing bottles, consider making your own condiments and storing them in reusable glass jars.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling receipts (or opt for no receipt at checkout).
- Minimize the use of canned foods in your diet. When you do eat canned foods, choose organic products labeled BPA-free.
- Use high quality salt in your cooking. Learn more about salt’s many benefits and our favorite high quality brand here.
- Choose loose leaf tea that you can steep and strain yourself. Reusable mesh tea bags or stainless steel tea baskets are convenient options to use at home.
We’re Here to Help!
At The Wellness Way, we specialize in guiding our patients to their most vibrant health, often through customized detoxes carefully monitored by our doctors. A guided detox can help alleviate the burden placed on an individual by various toxic influences, including exposure to heavy metals or plastics, vaccine injuries, food allergies, medication use, and more. Our skilled practitioners go beyond symptoms-based care and address our patients’ unique physiology in ways that facilitate a return to total body wellness.
Reach out to a clinic near you to learn more about how we can support you on your journey to restored health!
²Harvard School of Public Health: Plastic: Danger Where We Least Expect It
³Plastic Oceans: Education and Discussion Guide
⁵EWG: BPA Coats Cash Register Receipts
⁶Beat the Microbead: Get to Know Plastics in Cosmetics
⁷National Geographic: Microplastics Found in 90 Percent of Table Salt